In the face of climate change, people are coming up with more and more unique ways fight it – from more simple ways such as reducing plastics, taking public transportation and planting more trees to creating NFTs that can help save the planet. Yes, you read that right.
Notorious for being quite unsustainable, NFTs (or non-fungible tokens) are pieces of data stored on the blockchain, just like cryptocurrencies. However, NFTs differ from cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin that are “fungible” meaning that just like physical currency they are the same as one another. NFTs on the other hand, are immutable and unique, and it is this nature of uniqueness that tech entrepreneurs are leveraging to find new ways to sustainability.
Backed by trees
One of the ways NFTs are being used to save the planet is using it as an innovative funding mechanism. Metaverse community developer Next Earth is selling NFT titles for its metaverse replica of Earth, with a clause that 10% of the purchase price goes straight to Amazon Watch to fund their reforestation efforts of the Brazilian rainforest. Next Earth is running a similar initiative with Ocean Cleanup, which helps remove plastic waste from the ocean.
Blockchain startup Coorest takes this concept further by selling what it calls “NFTrees” which is a tree-shaped NFT but backed by a real fig tree in Coorest’s recently purchased land in Spain. A purchase of an NFTree not only gives you an ownership of a digital tree that you can display in the metaverse, you also get a certificate of ownership of the real tree (which you can visit), and earn tradable tokens from the amount of carbon dioxide your tree absorbs, as well as the amount of fig it produces.
Trading for carbon credits
Just like Coorest, several other companies are also using NFTs to tokenise carbon credits as a means for users to offset their carbon emissions. This move is important in that by using the blockchain in tokenising carbon credits, observers can monitor the validity of the carbon credits and prevent fraud such as “double counting” i.e., when two different parties claim the same carbon removal.
Brazilian-startup Moss.Earth recently launched its MCO2 tokens, using proceeds of the sale towards “reputable environmental projects” to save the Amazon rainforest. Each MCO2 token is equivalent to saving one ton of carbon dioxide and can be traded in cryptocurrency exchanges like Coinbase or Gemini. To date, Moss.Earth claims to have generated over US$30 million for its preservation efforts and saved up to 1.33 million tons of emissions.
SavePlanetEarth, partnering with blockchain operator Phantasma, also set up its very own certified and externally audited Carbon Credit Smart NFT that individuals and businesses can buy to offset their carbon footprint.
Green Beli is also using NFT to raise funds for its environmental causes, through its play-to-earn NFT game. This game can be played as a PVP or in tournament mode and allows players to buy upgrades in the form of tree seeds, land or other NFT-based items. Their concept is to allocate 30% of revenue from these purchases to eco-friendly activities around the world.
And of course, the most basic way NFTs can help save the planet is through its virtual nature. Think about it: a lifetime of consumerism has hard-wired us to buy essential and unnecessary things. These purchases ultimately contribute to the growing waste in the world, whether through the boxes, plastic parts and even the product itself.
But what if you can purchase these goods virtually? If you, for example, bought limited edition Air Jordans at OpenSea.io for bragging rights in the metaverse, then you cut out all the packaging and petrol needed just to fulfil your physical order. It’s the same when you purchase an NFT art print or an NFT yacht – you do away with the all the physical waste involve toward owning a unique piece of asset. Maybe next time you have the urge to shop, why not shop for an NFT?
A cleaner, greener NFT
But wait, isn’t NFT not as sustainable as it claims to be? Experts put a forward a figure that every time an NFT is created or sold, 48kg of carbon dioxide is generated. So how it can it help protect against climate change when in fact it’s a contributor?
There’s no denying that NFTs still have a long way to go to be considered a ‘clean’ technology. But efforts are being made to mitigate their impact. Crypto mining farms tend to be in low-temperature areas where electricity costs are lower and generated from renewable sources including geothermal, solar or hydro.
The Bitcoin Mining Council recently released figures that show global Bitcoin mining consumes just 0.12% of the world’s energy production and that 58% of global Bitcoin mining activity is powered by sustainable energy.
There is also the Crypto Climate Accord which was signed by over 45 companies and individuals just about a year ago and supported by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The Accord pledges to decarbonise the crypto industry, with a target year of 2040 to fully eliminate carbon emissions.
See also: How Sustainable Are NFTs, Exactly?
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